Q. Thank you for this site. What happened to Aaron’s rod and the manna in the ark of the covenant (1 Kings 8:9)?
Also, I read somewhere that the Roman general Titus entered the Holy of Holies before the second temple was destroyed and was surprised because all he found was an empty room. The account I read by Josephus, however, simply states that a Roman soldier threw a torch at the temple, and it went up in flames. I figure that Titus wouldn’t have been struck dead because God’s glory had already departed. What are your thoughts on these?
A. Exodus 16:33-34 states that the golden bowl of manna was to be placed before (not inside) the Ark of the Testimony. And Numbers 17:10 says the same thing about Aaron’s rod. The same Hebrew word is used in both places. It’s used 2109 times in the Old Testament and has a wide variety of meanings, but as far as I can tell inside is not one of them. Therefore scholars have only assumed that they were placed inside the Ark. Since the Bible can’t contradict itself and since they weren’t there when King Solomon placed the Ark in the Temple, it’s likely that they were never there. Hebrews 9:4 contains a word added by the King James translators and another that’s given a unique meaning to make it appear that the Manna and Aaron’s rod were in the Ark. The original language there can also be correctly translated that they were by or with the Ark, rather than in it . The Bible doesn’t say what eventually happened to them.
There is a Jewish legend that Titus entered the Holy of Holies. The truth is that God never dwelt in the second Temple, the Ark of the Covenant and the mercy seat that represented His throne were lost at the time of the Babylonian captivity and have never been found. Titus was right. The room was empty and had been for all the time of the 2nd Temple’s existence.